Over the past year, young rockers India have become as regular at bars and venues in downtown St. John’s as the beer that shares their name.
Now with the release of the band’s hotly anticipated self-titled debut, India brings the energy and swagger of their live show to their first full-length record. The album’s 10 tracks are quick, punchy, and reverb-soaked, packed full of crunchy guitar riffs and too cool for school lyrics.
The four-piece, made up of dual vocalists and guitarists Adam Engram and Peter Lannon, bassist Braden Howse, and drummer Jack Etchegary, have made a name for themselves with their jangly and fun brand of rock.
The band owes a lot to local contemporaries like Bleu and Sleepy, but has an attack and energy all their own. Creative rhythmic passages, simple hooks, and straight-ahead grooves are hallmarks of India’s songs and have helped make the quartet mainstays in the city.
Of course, the band’s debut has these qualities in spades. All the band’s lo-fi charm jumps out, with dirty guitars, punchy bass and full, big, and boomy drums, and the vocals are mixed nicely, often with a splash of echo and verb that give the tracks some extra depth. The record’s songs are also wrapped up in slick packaging – both in terms of the visual design and production – bright and washy with a bit of an edge and some personality.
One of the standouts on the record is “Don’t Mind,” a fuzzy and dreamy homage to late nights downtown. The guitars lead the way on the song with plenty of springy reverb and spacey echo, while the gritty affected vocals sit on top with a simple melody. The group is tight through the rhythmic patterns in the chorus and Etchegary’s drum grooves make the tune one of the most danceable on the album.
“Dead” is another standout, opening with a shaky and commanding tremolo-laden guitar riff. Perhaps the rawest of the album’s tracks, the vocals are honest, powerful, and yearning, the drums are driving, and the guitars assured and rocking.
All together, India is a consistent set of solid rock songs that are young and fun. Among the album’s 10 songs, it’s the rawest, grittiest, and most honest moments that steal the show, and the record would be even better served if the band let it all hang out.
India’s first album is a little safe at times, but the band has plenty of room to grow. No one has more fun at an India show than the musicians themselves, and that’s something that translates to a live audience just as it does on the band’s debut. India is a strong start from this young band that will certainly continue to get better with age (unlike the beer that shares their name).